is wrapping up its Year-in-Review series with a look back at the last 12 months to see all the new side-by-sides that have been released. Feel free to check out our previous articles on utility quads and sport quads.

Sure the economy is not where we’d all like it, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the ATV and side-by-side industry in 2008. Polaris came to market with the most advanced and most expensive off-road vehicle any of the major manufacturers have ever released, while also giving the Ranger a new look. Also, Arctic Cat put its powerful 951cc engine in a Prowler, while Kawasaki made significant changes to its almost new Teryx. To top it all off, Honda and Kymco have joined the side-by-side party with vehicles of their own.

Side-by-sides are still a pretty new concept, but the manufacturers have stepped up big time in the last year or so to push the envelope with new technology and features. Just look at what’s come out in the last few months.

2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S

The RZR S is a souped-up version of the very popular Ranger RZR which Polaris just introduced for the 2008 model year. Quite simply, there is nothing like this available from any of the other major manufacturers. The 760cc engine can reach speeds up to 63 mph, while the suspension is in a league of its own. Longer A-arms were added to give the RZR S a 60-inch wide footprint, resulting in a huge boost in cornering and stability. Standard Fox Podium X reservoir shocks are compression and pre-load adjustable and help provide a very plush 12 inches of travel and a whopping 12.5 inches of ground clearance. Connecting the RZR S to the ground is a set of Maxxis Bighorn tires wrapped around 12-inch aluminum wheels. The sticker price is a little shocking, but you’d spend thousands more to get the base RZR up to this level.

Base MSRP: $13,999 Review Specs

2009 Polaris Ranger XP

For 2009 the Ranger XP comes with new and bolder styling, a smoother ride, more storage and perhaps the best ergonomics in the category. The front-end styling looks more muscular with a sweptback grill and wing back bumper. The headlights are inset to get them away from branches and protect them from rocks and debris thrown up when riding. You’ll also find new tie down locations to secure the rig to a trailer or pickup bed. Also new is the front suspension – MacPherson struts are gone, replaced by dual A-arms and coil spring over shock adjustable damping. This new suspension features fully adjustable preload and motion control. Steering effort is greatly reduced compared to the 2008 version thanks to the suspension change.

Base MSRP: $10,799 Review Specs

2009 Polaris Ranger HD

Polaris’ new Ranger HD is designed to be the heavy hauler and true work companion. It may well be the most versatile Ranger ever. It does everything the Ranger XP does, but it’s got more bells and whistles. It comes with a variable assist power steering that makes this unit very easy to drive. On-Demand AWD and rear suspension outfitted with Nivomat self-leveling shocks help keep the ride smooth while retaining much of the 11.5 inches of ground clearance even with a full 1,500-pound load in the back. A full complement of front-mounted accessories is also available, including one of the most versatile plow setups we’ve ever seen.

Base MSRP: $12,999 Review Specs

2009 Arctic Cat Prowler 1000 H2 EFI XTZ

Arctic Cat’s new Prowler is endowed with the baddest, meanest engine in any side-by-side from a major manufacturer. With the same 188-ft-lbs. of torque that’s built into the Thundercat ATV, the 951cc H2 V-twin engine gives the Prowler some serious performance. To keep the new Prowler stable, engineers reduced ride-in height by two-inches for improved cornering, while still allowing up to 10-inches of ground clearance and 10-inches of suspension travel. It doesn’t handle quite well as a Polaris Ranger RZR so you can’t corner with quite the same exuberance. Overall, this Prowler is more than fast and quick. It can haul, tow and handle virtually any terrain. Once the aftermarket sinks its teeth in, the Prowler XTZ will be a force to be reckoned with.

Base MSRP: $13,999 Review Specs

2009 Arctic Cat Prowler 550 H1 EFI

Though not possessing the incredible power of the XTZ, Arctic Cat’s new Prowler 550 Flat Bed is impressive in its own right. It’s powered by a new motor, a ‘hemi’ headed single with electronic fuel injection and liquid-cooling. It has a flat bed in the back that sits 2.5 inches lower for easier loading than the standard Prowler cargo box. The new 550 delivers exceptional low-end grunt, which is ideal for a working vehicle. The suspension offers a fairly plush 10 inches of travel along with 10 inches of ground clearance. Goodyear MTR tires wrapped around 14-inch steel rims keep this Prowler attached to the ground.

Base MSRP: $9,499 Review Specs

2009 Honda Big Red

The 2009 Honda Big Red is as utility minded as it could possibly be. It’s large and wide with an imposing stance. It’s not meant to fit in the back of your pickup and it won’t scoot down narrow ATV-sized trails. Honda is big on safety and unlike some of the models that the competition has released it didn’t want anything to do with a narrower, faster side-by-side. It boasts a big tilt bed measuring 33 by 52 by 10 inches that can hold a standard size pallet. A progressive action strut assist system makes dumping a simple task. The bed can hold 500 pounds and the vehicle is rated to tow 1,200 lbs with its heavy duty two-inch receiver style hitch.

Base MSRP: $11,399 Review Specs

2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4×4 Sport

It took Kawasaki less than a year to give the Teryx a major upgrade. New for 2009 are standard digital gauge, bold graphics packages and fuel injection, which makes the 2009 model considerably peppier than its predecessor. The new Sport version of the Teryx includes a fully adjustable suspension package. The front and rear get a tunable sport-focused suspension that allows the crafty rider to set the RUV up for his style of terrain. High performance gas charged Kayaba shocks include piggyback reservoirs, compression and rebound adjustments along with preload adjustability. Also, custom 12-inch aluminum wheels and Maxxis tires come standard on the Sport.

Base MSRP: $11,899 ($12,199 for Monster Energy Sport) Review Specs

2009 Kawasaki Mule Lineup

Kawasaki has upgraded its entire Mule lineup for 2009. The 4000 and 4010 models feature a powerful 617cc engine that is now equipped with digital fuel injection (DFI). Besides the new DFI system, the Mule 4010 models also feature a new electric power steering (EPS) system, selectable four-wheel drive, a fully-automatic transmission, locking rear differential and a tilting cargo bed. The Mule 4010 Diesel models have a new truck-like look. The Mule 600 and 610 have minor changes. The 600 has a slightly widened flap in the rear left tire housing to minimize mud entering the engine area, while the 610 has a new tread pattern on the 24-inch tires to improve off-road traction.

Base MSRP: $6,299 (600), $7,099 (610), $8,199 (4000), $9,499 (4010), $10,599 (4010 Diesel) 600 Specs, 610 Specs, 4000 Specs, 4010 Specs, 4010 Diesel Specs

2009 Kymco UXV 500

For those considering a side-by-side but aren’t interested in spending $10,000 or more, Kymco offers up its UXV 500 for 2009. Though it has a base price of about $8,000, the UXV 500 is not a cheap knockoff by any means. It comes with a standard digital dash, fully independent front and rear suspension, 12 inches of ground clearance, 1,200 pounds of towing capacity, a cargo bed capable of carrying 420 pounds, and a liquid-cooled 498.5cc engine that pumps out a claimed 36 horsepower. It doesn’t have the power and speed of side-by-sides from other manufacturers and it is missing fuel injection, but it has plenty of utility and should be a good work machine with a little fun thrown in.

Base MSRP: $7,999 ($8,499 for Camo) Specs

Related Reading 2008 Year in Review – Sport Quads 2008 Year in Review – Utility Quads



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